I am sober. Can I socialize with friends who drink?

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Lindsey Blakley
Apr 07, 2021

So, you’ve successfully completed your recovery program, and you are trying to navigate through the outside world once again. Only this time, the world might feel entirely different. You most likely won’t go to the same hangouts anymore, have the same routine, or even work at the same job. Some even move away from their previous town or city in hopes of starting fresh somewhere else. To start fresh but also to remove themselves from past scars and temptations. 

Regardless of if you keep the same friends or make new ones, you will likely run into a situation where you want to go to a restaurant, but you know the restaurant serves alcohol. You also know that whoever you are with will most likely have a drink with their dinner. 

Does this mean you can’t go or that you can’t be friends with this person?

In short, no, that is not what this means. However, the true answer is entirely up to you and what you are comfortable with. 

It doesn’t matter where you live or who you are friends with (to an extent); there will always be some sort of temptation in the world. Even those that haven’t suffered from alcoholism are faced with certain levels of temptation every day. 

Will power and self-discipline are your best friends when faced with temptation. You must have the self-discipline to recognize when you are feeling vulnerable and the willpower to say no and continue your choice of recovery. 

That said, there are a few tips to help you maintain your sobriety while having a social life. 

How To Maintain Sobriety Around Friends Who Drink

The following tips are meant to provide advice and assurance for those looking to regain their social life after making the choice to become sober. This can be a challenge for anyone at any point in their recovery. 

However, those that are still quite early in their recovery are advised to stay away from situations where alcohol is involved, even a restaurant. This is because you are at a higher risk of relapse when you are still in the early stages of your recovery. You probably haven’t yet had the chance to regain your composure in society and create new, healthy habits for yourself outside of a rehabilitation center. 

Still, it is your decision to make. Here are a few tips that might help make the decision a little easier: 

Have An Open and Honest Conversation

Your sobriety isn’t something you have to be ashamed of, and it also doesn’t have to be some monumental outing of a conversation. In fact, it is a conversation that can easily happen over dinner just after the table orders drinks! If the timing feels right for you, simply let your friend(s) know that you do not drink. 

How you word it is entirely up to you as well. If you feel comfortable talking about your sobriety as a journey of recovery, this might be the most effective route to take. Not only do you get the direct point across, but every time you say it, you’ll gradually feel more comfortable speaking about your journey. In turn, you may find this to be an incredibly healing experience. 

You can also choose a more nonchalant route if you feel you aren’t ready to have such a serious conversation with your friend just yet. Maybe you choose to be the sober driver for the evening instead and just leave it at that. 

Remember that you can’t control other’s reactions either. If the person isn’t supportive of your sobriety, maybe that person isn’t meant to be your friend in your life of recovery. 

Order a Non-Alcoholic Beverage

If the restaurant has a bar, the chances are high that you can find a fun non-alcoholic beverage the bartender will be thrilled to make for you! Chances are, it’ll taste better than every other person’s drink at the table too. 

Know Your Limits 

If you decide to have dinner at a restaurant that turns into a full bar at a certain time, be sure to have plans for yourself afterward. Your friend(s) might want to stay at the bar, but having plans solidified after dinner will eliminate this temptation for you. 

Try To Plan More Things That Aren’t Alcohol-Related

If you find that your friend always wants to go somewhere that serves alcohol, it might be time to have that conversation mentioned above. Try suggesting other fun activities that have nothing to do with alcohol. 

Things like: 

  • Nature walks
  • Checking out a museum or art gallery
  • Take a class together 
  • Exercising 
  • Finding an artistic outlet
  • Playing a sport

There are so many fun ways to navigate your path of recovery. The best part about your sobriety is that it is yours, and you can get as creative as you’d like with how you approach situations that involve alcohol. At the end of the day, the more people you can find that support your sobriety, the better! 

Lindsey is a full-time copywriter, editor, and mother with a passion for all things related to mental wellness and personal growth. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and e-books.

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